A first of its kind survey of independent HR firms revealed that nine in 10 (93%) expect to grow their business within the next 12 months.
The survey, carried out by HRi, a UK body for independent HR and people professionals, also showed that half (48%) had gained more clients during the pandemic, and two-thirds (65%) felt HR has become more credible in the face of COVID.
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Mary Asante, director at HRi, told HR magazine that businesses are more aware than ever of the need for solid HR support.
She said: “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of HR to many businesses.
“Organisations needed to connect with their employees on a level which was unprecedented.”
She added: “Both external and internal HR have been crucial to supporting organisational leaders and their employees through this. Bluntly, HR rose to the challenge and added real value to organisations.”
While the report was generally positive, it highlighted the problem of effectively communicating the value gained by consulting with people professionals.
One in six (16%) reported a lack of confidence in their pricing, and nearly a third (30%) of the consultants had not put up their fees in the last 12 months.
Asante said: “Confidence in pricing comes with experience; the more one undertakes a specific task or project, the better they get at estimating how long it will take to complete the task and to work out the resources that may be needed.”
While most (75%) independent consultants reviewed their prices regularly, a quarter (25%) review fees less than once every two years, or sporadically.
Asante added: “Our research shows us that there is scope for HR consultants to have greater confidence in what they offer to businesses, especially post-COVID, as well as review their pricing methods too.”
She concluded that the increase in demand for outsourced HR help is not likely to diminish: “Companies will continue to recognise the need for a strong HR programme led by experienced and qualified HR professionals.
“However, independent HR organisations will have to continue to provide quality and reliable support to their clients to help them to align their people strategies with their business strategies, to stand out as good employers and also to remain legally compliant.”
HRi surveyed 161 independent HR practitioners from July to August 2021.